Ronan knew of Kavinsky. He'd heard of the substance parties. He'd seen Joseph Kavinsky's pack of dogs roaming the school grounds on the rare occasions he made an appearance. Adam talked enough shit about them that Ronan felt like they might be storybook villains - Kavinsky and his pets in their castle, driving their fast cars, kissing anyone who would let them, drinking top shelf this, snorting expensive that. Somewhere behind the obvious disdain, Ronan wondered what it might be like to be one of them.
He never let that thought manifest itself into more of a passing, distant curiosity. It couldn't be more than that. Because Ronan Lynch didn't care about being anyone other than himself.
But the thought he did let slip through was dirtier. Its awfulness squirmed under his skin. He kept it quiet and low, smashed against his bones where no one would see it.
Ronan caught Joseph Kavinsky's eye for the first time on the football field at school. Ronan was walking toward the locker room to get ready for Tennis practice, stripping his shirt off as he went, and Joseph was leaning lazily against a tree with a cigarette in his mouth.
"Nice ink," Joseph said.
Ronan acknowledged him with a quirk of his lips, and a lift of his brow.
That day Ronan stopped wondering what it might be like to be one of them, and instead, wondered what it would be like to be with one of them.
Kavinsky was stealthy and quick. Ronan noticed that one minute Kavinsky would be there, lingering in the corner with his arm over Proko's shoulder, and the next he'd be gone, out the front doors, into the parking lot. Sometimes Ronan would watch him move, the way his smile stretched and faded, the peculiar differences between his hands and Adam's. K wore rings like a king, had large, bony knuckles, and painted his thumbnails black. Adam's hands were boyish and charming, strong, with obvious veins and dusted with freckles.
Ronan had come to the understanding that Adam's hands would never be interested in touching him. It would always be fist bumps and shoulder brushes, passing glances and sarcastic remarks. Adam Parrish was his friend, and that meant he was off limits.
Ronan caught Kavinsky on one of his escapes toward the parking lot. Joseph Kavinsky wasn't Ronan's friend, but that didn't make him a smart decision.
He'd been fucking up for too long to stop now.
"Where you going?" Ronan asked. He shoved his hands in the front pockets of his pants, tie askew under his collar, the strap of his black tank showing on his shoulder where his uniform shirt sagged.
Kavinsky's gaze was hollow and amused. He looked from Ronan's mouth to his chest, from his chest to his waist. "Gansey's dog, right?"
Ronan's jaw flexed.
"Lynch, right? Ronan Lynch?"
Ronan arched a brow. Everyone knew who he was.
Joseph regarded him with a fond, cruel smile. "All right, Lynch. Get in."
Ronan should've hesitated, but he didn't.
A week later, Ronan snuck out of Monmouth Manufacturing. He tried to keep quiet, but his combat boots thudded the concrete and his breathing felt labored and heavy. Something horrible twisted inside him, unused adrenaline, pent up desire, want and want and want, misguided anger. Ronan wanted to break something as badly as he wanted to break himself, but he was bored of his own misery. Being bitter was tedious, and he didn't have the patience for it.
Hey princess. Meet me at the fairgrounds.
Ronan got in his car, turned up the music, and drove to the fairgrounds.
For the second time since Ronan and Joseph had seen each other, they were alone. The first day had been silent, almost. Kavinsky asked questions that Ronan didn't answer. Ronan made wise ass comments that Joseph laughed at. In the end, they smiled at each other, and Kavinsky introduced him to the pack, and Ronan felt the eerie, dark ache of longing bloom inside him. The three times Ronan saw him after that, it was with Jiang and Swan, or Proko and Skov.
This time, Joseph leaned against the hood of his Mitsubishi and looked at the sky, arms crossed over his chest, alone in the middle of the field.
Ronan glanced at himself in the rearview mirror, got embarrassed for looking at himself, and pinched the inside of his wrist. He turned off the headlights and stepped out of the BMW, tracing the ridge of K's shoulders, the lean build of his arms and strange circular scars on his throat. Cigarette burns Ronan noted. He shoved his hands in his pockets and placed himself on the hood beside Kavinsky, feeling odd and vulnerable, like he had the first time Adam noticed him staring.
"Am I reading this wrong?" Kavinsky glanced at him. "Or are you queer?"
Ronan flushed. His teeth immediately set, gritting hard. "What the fuck does that mean?"
"It's a question." K eyed him carefully. The dark circles under his eyes reminded Ronan of the drugs and partying that he would never relate to. But his mouth parting, tongue darting out across his bottom lip, reminded Ronan that Kavinsky wasn't off limits. He was handsome, despite the cocaine. He was enticing, despite being despicable. "Looks like I wasn't reading this wrong," he added, voice rough and playful, low like he'd meant to whisper and hadn't quite pulled it off.
Kavinsky grabbed Ronan's shirt and pulled until their mouths clumsily met. Ronan didn't know what he was doing. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to breathe, recalled every love scene he'd watched in every single movie he owned and tried to replicate it. It turned into him exhaling shakily through his nose and tilting his head, lips opening a fraction for the wet slide of K's tongue. Ronan was too scared to move. He didn't know what to do with his hands or whether he should scoot closer. He simply craned his neck, searching for more of K's hot breath in his mouth, more of their teeth clanking and more of Joseph's low hum whenever Ronan flicked his tongue a certain way, or chased his lips when he pulled back to change the angle.
"Fuck, not wrong at all," Joseph said against Ronan's mouth.
Ronan kissed him again, harder than the last, trying to make a point that he'd done this before, even though he hadn't.
Kavinsky's warm hand slid along his thigh. Ronan's head spun. He swallowed hard, biting down on K's lip when his palm slid between his legs and squeezed. It happened quicker than Ronan thought these things happened. One minute K was next to him on the car, the next he was in front of him, pushing Ronan down against the hood of the Mitsu, rubbing Ronan through his jeans and breathing hard against his jaw.
It was difficult to process. Ronan wanted to throw himself off a cliff and he wanted to come and he wanted to eat Joseph alive. He was so full of warm, hazy light. Everything sped up and slowed down. He felt K's mouth on his throat, and flushed when K wrapped a hand around his thigh and coaxed it around his waist.
"Can we like -" K stopped to fumble with Ronan's button and zipper. "Actually do this?"
Ronan didn't take K for someone who asked, but he nodded anyway. Maybe K didn't want to get punched, not that Ronan would've punched him, but that was a reasonable fear.
"Thank fuck. Don't tell anyone I was a gentleman and I won't tell anyone you're a slut." K winked down at him.
Ronan couldn't help it, he barked a laugh, appreciating the ease between them. The mutual eagerness. Kavinsky shoved until Ronan's pants and boxers were kicked away, then discarded his own. Ronan didn't look, but he listened to Kavinsky spit in his hand, and reached down to trace the line of K's hipbone with his fingertips. When K's hand wrapped around him, he gasped, back arching off the car.
They kissed again, rough and deep, and Ronan rolled his waist when he felt the hard press of Kavinsky between his legs, their cocks gripped in his fist, hips grinding against Ronan's hips as he pulled them together again and again. K panted into his mouth. Ronan took the chance to slither his hand under K's shirt, feeling scars and lean muscle and jagged bone. He used the other to anchor himself to Kavinsky, threading his fingers through his hair and holding on. He leaned up to kiss him, bucked his hips and tried to stay quiet, but couldn't. He'd never heard himself before, and as embarrassing as it was, Joseph moaned too, hoarse and quivering against Ronan's jaw.
Ronan came first, because of course he did. His body tensed and he sank his nails into K's ribcage and the nape of his neck. A wounded, high sound left him, shaken and gasped into the humid midnight air. Kavinsky didn't let up until he came too, making everything stickier and messier in the process. Ronan loved the way he came, with a short groan against Ronan's mouth, and his tongue dragging along Ronan's bottom lip.
Gansey didn't know. He couldn't ever know. That was the first thought that crossed Ronan's mind as the after shocks dissipated. He looked at the stars as he caught his breath. Kavinsky lit a cigarette next to him. He nudged Ronan and handed it to him. Ronan took a drag and closed his eyes.
The second was Joseph Kavinsky is very good at that.
Gansey hated Kavinsky. So did Adam.
They noticed Ronan's disappearances becoming more frequent, and constantly berated him about his choice of after hours accomplices, but Ronan ignored them. Gansey was his person, he would always be his person.
Adam was Adam. He looked at Ronan more disdainfully now. His glacier eyes would pass across Ronan easily, as if they could see what lingered under his clothes, hickeys and dried come and half-moon bite marks. Ronan didn't bother explaining or giving him the recognition he wanted. He still found himself dreaming of Adam, even after he'd come home from being with Kavinsky, but he wasn't going to worry about the complexities of that until it absolutely demanded his attention. Adam was still off limits, and Kavinsky wasn't.
The first time Ronan went down on Kavinsky was at a substance party. He was drunk and heated, and Kavinsky was there, in the back of the Mitsu with his eyes on Ronan over the top of his ridiculous white sunglasses.
"Fuck off," Kavinsky said to a few party goers. Said party goers did as they were told, leaving Kavinsky and Ronan alone. He curled his index finger. "Come here."
Ronan smirked at him. "I don't do tricks, K."
"Sit, stay, roll over," K teased under his breath. He scooted over and patted the seat beside him. "C'mon, Lynch. Chill out."
Heat pooled in Ronan's gut. He watched K spread his legs, saw him fiddle obscenely with the zipper on his skinny jeans. A snapback covered his dark hair, and a torn tank top rode up to show the stick and poke tattoo next to his belly button.
"You ever fucked in a car?" Kavinsky palmed himself and stretched out, teeth set in his bottom lip.
Ronan didn't answer.
"You've never fucked me in a car," Kavinsky purred.
Ronan thought about two nights ago on his laptop, watching two men fuck on the screen and wondering how they didn't gag on each other. His mouth was watering, throat flexing around emptiness. He wanted K to fuck him up. He wanted to know what K tasted like, wanted to know if he could make him tremble. He glanced over his shoulder. Everyone was off on their own. He saw the shape of Skov in the back of an Escalade, bouncing in Swan's lap with his head thrown back.
If they could fuck in a car, so could he.
"C'mere babe," Kavinsky said through a grin. He reached for Ronan as soon as he dipped into the car, grabbed the nape of his neck and pulled him into a kiss. They tasted like five different liquors, beer, cigarettes, and something sour. Ecstasy, maybe. Ronan hadn't taken any, but K probably had. "Close the door."
Ronan pulled the door shut and let the alcohol make him brave. He knocked K's hand away from his zipper and unfastened the button. K sat up, letting Ronan tug his jeans down to his ankles. He sank to the floor behind the seat and wrapped his hand around K's cock. He'd touched him plenty of times now, plenty being three times exactly, but still. His dick was flushed and hard already, velvety against Ronan's palm.
K spread his legs and grabbed Ronan's jaw, pulling him where he wanted. Ronan allowed it, wetting his lips before he wrapped them around K and sank down.
"Watch your teeth," K gasped out, squeezing the back of Ronan's head. "Like that, Christ," his hips jerked when Ronan's throat fluttered, and Kavinsky held him tight, guiding him up and down, deeper and deeper until Ronan squirmed for air. "Sorry," K mumbled.
Ronan pulled off and took a breath. His eyes were misted and his jaw was sore, but he opened his mouth and swallowed K down again, pushing himself further until his nose was against the skin of K's pelvis. He swallowed around him, fighting back the urge to gag, and listened to K whine and moan above him. He placed a shaking hand on the back of Ronan's head, the other pressed hard against the seat. Ronan gagged once and Kavinsky curled over him, gasping loud over the thumping bass and the wet sound of Ronan's lips on him.
Ronan inhaled through his nose and flattened his tongue, gripping K's waist as he pressed his nose against his pelvis and swallowed again and again, gagging painfully on K's cock. He didn't give Ronan a warning, but the sound that came out of Kavinsky made Ronan wonder if he'd known he was that close anyway. Ronan's throat was flooded with hot, salty come. He coughed, pulling back in time to catch some on his chin. Ronan pawed at the door until it opened and coughed again, spitting on the ground next to the Mitsu.
Once he'd caught his breath, Ronan wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and crawled on the set next to Kavinsky, who eyed him curiously from under his lashes. K looked wrecked. His cheeks were flushed, pupils dark and wide. He pulled up his pants and put a hand on Ronan's chest, pushing him to lie down on the back seat.
"You get paid to do that, Lynch? Because I've never gotten head like that from anyone but a hooker." Kavinsky made quick work of his pants, pulling them down enough to get his mouth around Ronan's dick.
Kavinsky's mouth was hot and perfect. He sucked Ronan off like he'd done it a thousand times, working his tongue around the tip until Ronan was arching and gasping, hollowing his cheeks and gagging just enough that Ronan could feel his throat tense before he pulled off. It didn't last long. Neither Ronan nor K expected it to. Ronan scraped his nails through K's hair and said, "I'm really fucking close."
Kavinsky looked at him through his lashes and bobbed his head, feeling across Ronan's thighs until he came. Ronan bit down on his knuckles to keep from crying out.
Ronan's jaw hurt, but after that, he still made out with Kavinsky for an hour to the sound of people having sex on the ground outside the car, and fireworks going off, and loud, grimy electronica.
"Are you at least..." Gansey sighed through his nose. He looked at the hickey on Ronan's neck and rolled his eyes. "Are you being safe?"
Ronan laughed all the way out the door. Of course he wasn't being safe. Ronan wasn't safe to begin with, living the life he lived, dreaming the things he dreamed, none of it was safe. But neither was Joseph Kavinsky.
The first time they fought, it was bad.
Joseph had mouthed off about Gansey, which Ronan marginally allowed.
Then he mouthed off about Adam. Ronan cocked his fist back and punched him.
K wiped blood off his chin and glared at Ronan. They were in K's bedroom, both of them bare from the waist up. Ronan heaved in breath after breath. He wanted to apologize, but he didn't apologize for anything, ever, so he stayed silent. Kavinsky grinned. There was blood on his teeth and he spit on the ground, staining the white carpet red.
"What the fuck are you still doing here?" K snapped.
Ronan grabbed his things and left.
Later that night, K sent him a picture of his split lip and a text that said I'll bury you.
An hour after that, Ronan drove to K's house, walked upstairs and shoved K against the wall. He kissed his mouth until Kavinsky winced and pulled away, then kissed his neck, to his collarbone, down his chest, over his stomach. He dropped to his knees and hooked his teeth over K's hipbones, pulled down his sweats and mouthed at the place where his thigh met his pelvis. K palmed the back of his head the whole time, sighing and gasping, making small, encouraging noises.
"Don't ever tell anyone I," K paused to moan, knees trembling when Ronan swirled his tongue around the head of his cock, "let you get away with this."
Ronan moaned around him. He palmed himself through his jeans until K came, and painfully swallowed, tonguing at the leftover slickness on the roof of his mouth.
"You ever let someone finger you?" K asked.
Again, Ronan decided not to answer. He let K shove him onto the bed, stripped out of his clothes and laid on his stomach while K rubbed his thumb between his cheeks, making Ronan flush and hide his face.
"I'm taking that as a no," Joseph chimed.
Ronan sneered at him and hid his face in his arms.
"Well, fuck, I'll make it good then," Kavinsky said through a laugh.
Suddenly there was warm breath on Ronan's thighs and Kavinsky's tongue pushing inside him. Ronan tried to steady his breathing, but everything was fast and sharp. K sucked and licked, bit at the back of his thighs and whispered terrible things.
"Proko's a good fuck, but you give him a run for his money."
"I could do this all day. You taste like a fucking dream."
"Bet Gansey's thought about doing this to you."
Ronan's knees spread further apart when K pushed the first finger in. It felt strange and awkward. The second hurt until it didn't, and once it didn't, K sat up and shoved them in, scissoring and twisting until Ronan was clawing at the sheets. K knew what he was doing. Ronan had done this to himself, but never this deep, never this fast or hard. Ronan could hear the sound of Kavinsky's fingers pulling back and pushing in, the warmth of K's palm when he curled them and rubbed.
He usually didn't talk during this sort of thing, that was Kavinsky's job, but this time Ronan rolled back against K's hand and said, "Fuck me, c'mon."
Joseph's breath hitched. He pulled his fingers out, and slid the length of his hard cock against him. It was a question, really. You sure? Which Ronan didn't have time to answer, because Kavinsky lined up, pushed in, and pressed Ronan against the bed.
It hurt. Ronan knew it was supposed to hurt, but he didn't know how much. This wasn't unbearable but it wasn't pleasant. He gritted his teeth for the first few minutes, letting K slide in halfway and back out, in again and back out, until he bracketed his knees over Ronan's hips and pushed until his hipbones grinded into Ronan's ass. Ronan cried out, hands fisted in the sheets. Kavinsky's breath gusted the nape of his neck. He tucked his chin over Ronan's shoulder, one hand on his hip, the other braced against the bed, and fucked Ronan hard and fast.
It was rough, but the pain faded. Ronan figured out how to press up into Kavinsky, and Kavinsky found the angle that made Ronan whimper and get loud. Ronan reached up to grab the back of K's head. K bit and sucked at Ronan's shoulder blades, panting as his hips snapped, moaning whenever Ronan's body tensed or his back arched. Ronan felt it building at the base of his spine. K's weight on him, the stretch of his cock inside him, the constant nudge against his prostate, and Ronan was coming, loud and hard. He curled forward, rolling his forehead against the pillow. His whole body shook. Everything came apart and came together at once. He didn't bother trying to stay quiet, if anyone heard him, it would be the pack and they knew better than to say anything.
Ronan's bones melted. He sank against the damp sheets, biting back pained moans when K fucked him through it, coming hot and wet inside him. It felt gross and weird when Kavinsky pulled out. Ronan could feel the drip of him down the back of his thighs and between his legs.
"You're a good fuck," Kavinsky said. He lit a cigarette. Ronan felt his fingers crawling up his leg, winced and shuddered when two pushed back inside him. "Can you come again?"
Ronan breathed hard. He wanted to scoot away, but didn't.
"K," Ronan sighed. He closed his eyes.
Ronan chewed on his bottom lip. He grunted, spreading his thighs apart. K shoved his fingers in. Ronan imagined everything was wet and open, fluttering around K's index and middle finger while they twisted and rubbed. He felt like a cheap whore. He felt wanted. Ronan came with a weak twitch and a choked off version of Joseph's name. His head spun. He felt used and sexy and disgusting. He wanted K to fuck him again, but his body was spent.
"Can I do line off you?"
Kavinsky rolled him on his back and cut a line of coke across his chest. Ronan looked at the ceiling while he snorted it, opened his mouth wide to be kissed and cringed at the taste of cocaine in K's mouth.
"C'mon, just a little," K said.
Ronan's jaw flexed. This was not a good decision, but Ronan was on a roll, one more bad choice wouldn't hurt. K lifted a bump of coke under Ronan's nostril on the ridge of his knuckle. He hesitated, but ended up inhaling until his body was a live wire, head swimming, stomach a mess of butterflies. Cocaine was the devil's drug. He laid on his back and spread his legs. The come was dry on his stomach, but K fucked him again, fast and sloppy, his hands around Ronan's throat, and Ronan's legs around his waist.
"God, you're perfect," Joseph hissed. Ronan was so sore and tired and high. "I bet I fucking dreamed you, Ronan. I bet I stole you."
The words hit a nerve, but Ronan couldn't tell which one. He was too busy being fucked, and coming again, his cock barely twitching against his stomach. He didn't bother showering. As soon as Kavinsky pulled out and kissed him, Ronan closed his eyes and fell asleep.
Ronan left before K woke up, the morning after their first time. He got back to Monmouth, jumped in the shower and sat on the floor, thinking.
I bet I fucking dreamed you.
The water beat down on his shoulders. He did fucking coke, what the fuck. His eyes squeezed shut and he cursed under his breath.
I bet I stole you.
One time, Ronan had been dreaming of Adam and brought back a finger. Just one. A fully formed, slender, freckle dusted finger. The thought twisted his gut, and he wretched until the alcohol from last night was out of his system, including K's come and the coke and the soda he'd drank this morning. He spit, washed out his mouth, brushed his teeth, and went to work getting his body clean.
Usually he brought back small, weird things. Boots. A pair of boxers. A shirt. One time he woke up and his dick was still wet from dream Adam's mouth.
The finger was the worst. He burned it, buried the ashes, and tried to forget about it.
But he couldn't forget. Just like he couldn't forget about what Kavinsky had said.
They found out they were dreamers a week later. Ronan avoided K until he couldn't, and K dropped a bundle of leather bands in his lap when he finally found him.
"I figured as much," K said through a sigh. He looked at Ronan over the top of his sunglasses. "Thieves tend to find each other."
"I'm not a thief," Ronan said.
They were sitting in the BMW in the field full of white cars. Ronan remembered the slide of K inside him, the wet sounds of their bodies meeting when they fucked like junkies in the early morning, high and exhausted and boneless. He wondered if K fucked everyone like that, multiple times, with a cigarette and uppers in between orgasms.
"Whatever it is you wanna call yourself, you're a dreamer, plain and simple." Joseph lit a cigarette and exhaled white smoke into the sunny afternoon air. "Dick and Poor Boy know?"
"They don't get it though."
Ronan shook his head.
Kavinsky hummed. He ashed on Ronan's hand and laughed until Ronan swatted him playfully on the leg. "I'm guessing they don't know you let me fuck you either?"
Ronan didn't say anything. He looked out at the field of white cars and wondered if he could do coke again without being an idiot about it. It was fun. Exhilarating. Or maybe it was the fucking part that was fun and exhilarating, or the boy next to him, or all of it combined.
"Would you tell them if I let you fuck me?"
Ronan glanced at him, one brow raised high on his forehead. "Would you want me to?"
"Doesn't matter either way. But, fuck, it's not you like you aren't a trophy lay."
Ronan snorted and rolled his eyes.
It was quiet after that except for the sound of the paper burning on K's cigarette and his deep, smokey exhales. Finally, after what seemed like and eternity, K said, "I can teach you how to be a thief."
Adam and Gansey argued over whether or not K was a good mentor. Of course he wasn't. They all knew that. Even Blue chimed in to give her two cents, which Ronan paid zero attention to.
After Ronan and K fought, and Ronan crashed Gansey's car, and Adam got lost, Ronan wondered what this was all for, really.
He thought about it all the time, how his dreams were getting harder to control, his desire was everywhere, how K was the worst decision he'd ever made, and how he kept making it again and again.
Kavinsky rolled his hips and arched his back, hands on Ronan's chest, ass grinding down with Ronan deep inside him. They were in Cabeswater. Or someplace like Cabeswater. Or a parallel Cabeswater. Ronan didn't know. He didn't care. They were asleep at the same time, sharing a dream, that's all that mattered. Ronan gripped Kavinsky's boney hips, feeling his muscles clench as he rode Ronan with careful, hard precision. His dark hair was plastered to his forehead, eyes lidded as he looked down at Ronan, mouth parted and red from where it'd been stretched around Ronan's cock moments before.
The pills wore off. Ronan felt himself slip back into consciousness. Kavinsky pawed at him, pressing his hard cock against his hip. Ronan forgot where they were, if they were in a car or K's room or somewhere else. He shoved K onto his back and slid his hand between his legs. He was slick and wet.
"Ronan, c'mon," K bit.
Ronan lifted one of his thighs and pushed inside him, rocking his hips slow and deep.
"Like that," K breathed. His lashes fluttered and he sighed. He tugged lazily at his cock and pushed his hips into Ronan's, finding a rhythm that left them both moaning and panting.
It was intimate in a way they hadn't been before. Drawn out and vulnerable. Kavinsky's legs were spread wide, one knee under Ronan's elbow. Ronan was taking it slow, grinding deep and pulling soft whines from K. Making him gasp and scratch at the sheets. K came first. Ronan followed right after, but as soon as he caught his breath, he nudged K's knees apart and slid two fingers back into him.
"Can you come again?" Ronan dared, lips twisted in a dark smile.
Kavinsky did a line off the nightstand. Ronan did a line off Kavinsky. They fucked hard and brutal and messy. Ronan caught dampness on K's lashes when he reached down and pushed a finger in beside his cock. He didn't stop when K choked on a broken moan, and said, "I can't Ro, I'm - fuck, I can't." But Ronan came in him again, and sucked his cock until he was gagging and his eyes were watering and K was bucking his hips, holding the back of his head and digging his heels into the bed.
Ronan spent the night. He threw up over the side of the bed in the morning and Kavinsky kicked him until he went to take a shower.
Adam wandered into Ronan's room one day. He sat on the edge of the bed and looked at Ronan. Really looked.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Adam asked.
Ronan narrowed his eyes. "I was listening to music."
"You know what I'm talking about." Adam's blue eyes fractured. He glanced at the circles under Ronan's eyes, the muted marks on his neck. "You deserve better than him."
Ronan stared at his feet. "What's it to you, Parrish?"
Adam slammed the door.
For a second, Ronan thought he might have cared.
"That thing is monstrous," Kavinsky said through a laugh. He gave Ronan's multi-beaked night horror a wide birth, walking circles around it with his hands behind his back. It snapped and screeched at him. "It follows you places?"
"Yeah," Ronan said. "Don't know why."
K was skin and bones. He was all hard edges against Ronan, sharp hips and small shoulders. Sometimes Ronan felt like he was breaking him. Sometimes it felt like K wanted Ronan to break him.
"You should unleash it, Ro. Let it cause some chaos."
Ronan tilted his head. His brows furrowed and he watched K, taking notice to the faint bruises under his eyes, the sleeplessness, the weight loss, the manic episodes. He knew this boy well enough to know he no longer knew him.
They fucked slow and easy that night. Ronan kissed Kavinsky deep and hungry, memorized the sound of him, the shape of his mouth, the feel of his skin. But even after something familiar, Ronan felt the unease and the unknown thicken.
Kavinsky died after a fight with Ronan, after a fight with Proko, after a fight with the pack. He died after he'd stayed up for four nights straight, and left a voicemail on Ronan's phone that said Hey, princess. I'm thinking about you. After he kidnapped Ronan's dream brother, and threatened Adam, and decided suicide would fix whatever was wrong.
Ronan tried to remember K like he was the first time he'd met him, and the night they'd spent alone, their first kiss, the few moments after that weren't horrible.
Somehow, Ronan knew this was coming. That didn't stop him from listening to the voicemail 24 times before he finally got angry enough to delete it.
An hour after he deleted it, he went back to find it, threw his phone against the wall, and drank until he could fall asleep.
Things like losing people don't get better. Ronan knew that. He ignored it, bypassed it, didn't answer when Gansey asked if he was okay, didn't look at Adam for two weeks, didn't bother answering to Blue when she directly addressed him.
After three weeks went by, Ronan was sitting alone in his room, listening to music, and his bedroom door opened.
Adam kicked the side of his bed. "Get up, Greywaren."
"Don't call me that, magical girl."
Adam rolled his eyes. "Aren't you going to be an adult in three days? Shouldn't you start acting like one?"
Ronan snarled a fiendish smile and tugged his headphones back on.
Three days later, Ronan kissed Adam.
They were going to die soon, so why not.
That night, Adam pinned Ronan against the wall and kissed him like he'd been dying to. Like Ronan had never been kissed. They kissed deep in each other's mouths, desperate and far too emotional to be able to handle this level of intimacy. Ronan's heart was going to explode. He was gong to die - and at this point, he'd be all right with it.
"Don't stop," Adam whispered. He pulled Ronan's jaw until their mouths met again and again and again, unhurried, wet, open kissing that made Ronan dizzy, that made him believe in second chances and living and pushing limits.
Ronan still dreamed of K sometimes. It was always good dreams, with K happy and smiling and young. They were usually looking at the night sky on the hood of the Mitsu. Sometimes K would ask how Adam was, sometimes he'd ask if Ronan missed him. Ronan always told the truth, he would talk about Adam, about being scared and excited at once, about how being in love was such a different experience. How he'd known it for so long. He always told K he missed him, because he did, despite knowing it was foolish.
Adam woke up beside him one morning, his eyes soft in the morning light coming in through the windows at the Barns. His fingertips played on the cliff of Ronan's cheekbone, legs tangled under thin sheets.
It'd been six months. Joseph died. Gansey died. Ronan almost died. Gansey came back. Ronan lived. Everything was a spiderweb of complications, overlapping and spreading out. Summer was ending, but it was still unbearably warm. The Barns glittered at night and Gansey and Blue had set off with Henry on an adventure. Things were still and real and allowed.
Even this. Even Adam.
"I love you, you know," Adam said.
Ronan nodded. "I've always loved you."
Adam's eyes narrowed. One side of his mouth lifted. "Even with K?"
Ronan's chest tightened. "Love comes in different shapes and sizes," he whispered.
Adam's thumb dragged across his mouth. "It does," he agreed.
Ronan never had told K he loved him. It was unnecessary.
But he tilted his head against the pillow and touched Adam's throat, resting his palm over his pulse. "I wish I could explain how different this is," he pulled on Adam's neck, gesturing between the two of them. "How long I told myself I couldn't have it."
Adam pressed their bodies together, chest to chest, hip to hip. He nosed at Ronan's jaw and thumbed at his chin. "You don't have to."
Ronan leaned over and kissed him.